Tuesday, February 20, 2007
The Economy vs. The Environment?
The other night I watched An Inconvenient Truth for a second time - this time with about 75 other people from around the Yorkville area through an event sponsored by the Kendall Environmental Coalition. This time it got me thinking about the question of whether one has to choose between a strong economy or saving the environment.

Among conservative skeptics of global warming there is this assumption that fighting global warming will necessarily be harmful to our economy. Frankly that doesn't seem very obvious to me. In fact, when I look at the list of things we can do to reduce our carbon emissions (both individually and nationally), a lot of them seem like they would actually be beneficial to our personal finances and national economy. For instance:

  1. If we all switched over to compact fluorescent light bulbs (which last longer, use less energy, and now give off the same soft white light that traditional bulbs do) we would save money both on the cost of bulbs and our electric bills.

  2. If we did whatever we could to make our homes more heat & water efficient we will likewise save money on our utilities bills. Not to mention the benefit of simply turning off the lights and electronics when you're not using them.

  3. Planting a tree doesn't just help the environment and look pretty in your yard, it also raises the value of your home.

  4. If you buy a more fuel efficient vehicle you will save a lot of money on gas. And if you simply choose to walk more when you can, it not only reduces your gasoline expenses, but also improves your health, which will cut down on your health care costs over the long term.

  5. Also, if our government were to dedicate more resources and incentives to the development of alternative fuels, it would likewise reduce our dependence on foreign oil, thereby increasing national security - reducing the need for Offense Department (oops, I mean "Defense" Department) spending - and ultimately helping our economy (both by reducing our foreign imports and allowing us to divert tax dollars away from the military-industrial complex towards more fruitful forms of economic stimulus.)

  6. And, if our government were to raise gas-mileage standards for auto-manufacturers we might actually be able to sell our cars overseas again (which we currently cannot, since most other countries' standards are so much higher than our own), and Americans might be more inclined to start buying domestic cars again. Naturally, this would be a big boost to our automotive industry and our economy as a whole.

So, you know, even if you're skeptical about the reality or cause of global warming, taking these steps (or pressuring our government to take them) still make good economic sense anyway. Why wouldn't you do these things?

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posted by Mike Clawson at 3:12 PM | Permalink |


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